A Van Gogh!

A Van Gogh!
From the artists at ArtWorks945

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What a Night!

Friday night we held the auction.

Tyler and I met at 7 to set up.  We hung about twenty paintings by artists from ArtWorks945 on the second floor of Summit Coffee Shop.  A three-piece band began to prepare for their gig.  Their music provided a lovely backdrop to the auction. 

Around 7:45 people started to trickle in.  I had a beer with my friends Matt and Dave to calm my nerves.  At that point I really had no idea how things were going to go.  Was anyone going to bid on Charlie’s painting?  I had no idea.

At 8, we opened the bidding. 

It took a little bit for the bidding to get off the ground.  Indeed, after forty minutes of no bids, my nerves pricked up.  I even sent a text to my friend Rob in New York expressing my dismay.

Despite the lack of bids, however, the event itself was taking off.  Many of my best friends came; a reporter from a local paper was there; two students showed up; and many others milled about.  I had very pleasant conversations with several people about Charlie’s painting.  And there was without a doubt a definite buzz in the room. 

And then, around 9:00, the first bid was made.  A consortium of local investors led by Nick, the owner of the Brickhouse bid $700. 

It had begun. 

My nerves went into overdrive.  I drank some more wine.

Eventually, bids started to come in from four different sources.  I won’t go into all the details.  But it was incredibly fascinating to watch.  The last fifteen minutes was about as exciting a fifteen minutes as I have ever had.  The bidding became a furious competition.  I can see why people like auctions!

I have included a picture of the bidding card.

As you can see from the first line, the bids started at $651.21, which was the amount that had been raised through the cumulative auction that I held online.

As you can also see from the card, the final bid was $1400. 


I’ll say it again: Yes!

At 10 O’ Clock, when the final bid was in, I was stunned. 

Charlie’s painting sold at auction for $1400.

I still am stunned.  I simply could not be happier about the result.  Between the cumulative auction and last night, Charlie’s painting brought in over $2051.21, which is close to double its original value. 

Charlie’s Law, it would seem, has been confirmed.

And who purchased the painting?  

Cargo Logistics Network, an import-export business based in Charlotte.

Cami Meador, director of operations, attended the auction and purchased the painting on behalf of CLN, which she owns and operates with her partner David.

After the auction, I talked to Cami, who wanted to stress the importance of corporations becoming involved in philanthropy.  Unlike most individuals, corporations, Cami said, have the financial means both to raise money for and to give money to charitable organizations. 

In addition to finding ArtWorks945 a very worthy cause, Cami was also clearly impressed by Charlie’s painting -- She not only saw its intrinsic aesthetic merits but also seemed to have a sense of its potential historical significance.

There really is so much more I could add.  But I think any more words I write will simply fall short.

Plato was right -- words cannot capture beauty.  One must simply experience it. 

And that night, a night in which the most unlikely painting captured the imaginations of a group of people all of whom were willing to spend money not just to have a historically significant painting but also to help an organization that allows homeless people the joy of artistic expression, I experienced beauty in what I can only think comes close to its purest form.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hegelian Syntheses

 Though I am perhaps overanalyzing the current situation, I can’t help but think that Hegelian structures characterize the auction for Charlie’s painting that will be held this Friday. 

According to Hegel, the world trundles along as a result of two opposing forces, a thesis and an antithesis, which yield to a third structure, a synthesis.  The synthesis, Hegel claimed, resolves the inner conflict of the thesis and antithesis and in so doing exists on a higher more advanced plane than them.

With respect to the forthcoming auction, there is on the one hand a thesis: aesthetic value.  What an incredibly rarefied thing.  It really is hard to say what it is, so hard in fact that many philosophers have even denied its existence.  

Nonetheless, despite aesthetic value’s elusive nature, one thing is certain -- art in all its forms has the ability to move people to profound almost mystical states of reverie.  Beethoven’s 9th, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Van Gogh’s Starry Night: Who can fail to be moved by the profundity they contain?  

Then there is the antithesis: homelessness.  It is not rarefied; it does not move people to states of reverie; and it certainly is not among humanity’s greatest achievements.  Indeed, quite the opposite.  Homelessness is not only utterly concrete, but it represents one of the great failings of contemporary society, a failing that should move people not to states of reverie but to states of anger at the causes of it and to a firm resolve to eliminate it.

Art and homelessness: what a peculiar and fascinating combination of opposing forces.  I must admit that when I started this project, the significance of such a combination never occurred to me. But now, through a series of seemingly random accidents, I have been introduced to an organization that is devoted to synthesizing those two forces: ArtWorks945. 

ArtWorks945 is an art gallery for the homeless: a place where people who have been marginalized by the cold machinations of the American economic system can go to express themselves through paint.  What a brilliant organization.  What a brilliant synthesis of a thesis and an antithesis.

But that is not all. 

In addition to ArtWorks945, there is another Hegelian synthesis to be had.

As those who have been following this blog know, I was introduced to ArtWorks945 as a result of coming into possession of one of the most intriguing pieces of art in the world – Charlie Spear’s Falling Down Man: a representation of a homeless person that was accidentally damaged and thereby improved by the United States Postal Service. 

Charlie’s painting now contains a thesis and an antithesis.  The thesis: a beautiful, moving and inspired painting.  The antithesis: accidental damage.

I have repeatedly made the claim that this particular thesis and antithesis have been synthesized into a painting that is quite literally one of a kind:  Charlie’s painting is one of the purest instances in the world of the category – painting that is accidentally damaged but thereby improved.

Of course, it is one thing for me to make such a claim and quite another for the market to respond to it.  

So what is Falling Down Man’s economic value?  How will the market respond to the synthesis of aesthetic value and damage?

I don’t know.  But I can’t wait to find out. 

The auction is this Friday at the Summit Coffee Shop, from 8 - 10.  

Somehow, I think the Universe will be there.  I hope others are too.